I was speaking to a friend who is the head of a customer service department. She tells everyone in the company, whether they work in the warehouse, in accounting, or wherever, that everyone in the company is in customer service. After all, everything they do has to do with their customers.
As I reflected on her words later, I realized that her sentence "we're all in customer service" had much more further reaching implications. It could be applied to each and every one of us. We are all "in service" -- not just those of us who work in those types of jobs or careers.
What Exactly Is the Meaning of Service?
Service is described in the Oxford English Dictionary as "the action of serving, helping, or benefiting; conduct tending to the welfare or advantage of another; condition or employment of a public servant; friendly or professional assistance." Furthermore, in Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, service is described as "the occupation or function of serving others; employment as a servant; contribution to the welfare of others.”
On the ThinkExist website I found this definition for service:
(n.) The act of serving; the occupation of a servant; the performance of labor for the benefit of another, or at another's command; attendance of an inferior, hired helper, slave, etc., on a superior, employer, master, or the like; also, spiritual obedience and love.
Now all of these definitions used the term "servant", and for many of us, that term may rankle somewhat. Servant may imply as quoted above "attendance of an inferior...on a superior". It implies that the "servant" is lower than others in status or worth. However, we are all "created equal" -- consequently, no one is lower than another. Perhaps it's time to change our perception of the words "service" and "servant".
We Are All in Service
We tend to think of people such as Mother Teresa, or other spiritual people, as being in "service" and we admire them for their dedication to those around them. However, we may not see how "being in service" applies to us as well.
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Perhaps we need to simplify the scope of "service". Anytime we smile at someone, or open the door for them, or help them in any way, we are "in service" because we are helping, or benefiting them. And furthermore, since we are all telepathic (yes, even those of you who don't think you are), anytime we think good thoughts about someone, or send "good vibes" or prayers in someone's direction, we are "serving them" because that helps uplift their spirit (and ours as well).
So, for me, this puts a whole other perspective on "being in service". It's no longer a "martyr" type of thing, or a "lower-than" experience. It is sharing the Love that is within us, and then letting that love shine out to all we come in contact with.
Our Attitudes Rub Off on Others
We tend to think that bad behaviors rub off on others, but so do good attitudes and vibes -- just think about it. When you come in contact with someone who is truly exuding love and acceptance and good wishes, you come away feeling better. In the reverse situation, when you come into contact with a grumpy, needy, miserable person, you come away feeling drained and tired.
While we cannot force anyone else to change their energy and vibration, if we make sure ours is at a level of love and acceptance and wishing them the best, then that energy will be transmuted to them. It will rub off, even if it is not visible to us immediately.
That is the act of being in service. Wanting the best for all, and being the best we can be with everyone. Rather than being stingy with our love and our good wishes, the more we give, the better our world will be, and the better we will feel as well. Being in service is actually a blessing to the giver and receiver.
It's Simple Really: Follow Your Heart
So how does one do it? Do you have to join an organization as a volunteer? Do you have to become a part of Habitat for Humanity, or travel to Africa like Dr. Albert Schweitzer? While all these actions are commendable, being of service is as simple as listening to your heart.
If a thought crosses your mind to call someone, do it -- or send an email at the least if you don't think you have time to call. If you're in a store, and see a little something that you know a friend or co-worker would love, get it. If you think of something to do for someone, do it. Don't question why, or why not. Don't deliberate as to whether it will be appreciated or not.
The giving has nothing to do with the response. When we give a gift (of time, or energy, or a material gift or a smile), we let go of it. We give because it is in our nature to give, to be of service. Then we let go.
Albert Schweitzer, renowned for his being in service as a medical missionary in Africa, said:
"The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others."
If we hold that thought as a guiding light, then we can indeed help make the world a better place. Let your heart lead you to be of service to those around you, so that you can be a blessing in life, whether by sharing a smile or a piece of apple pie, or simply by being a little bit kinder to those around you.
However, a word of caution: it may be easy to veer from "service" to "martyrdom". The actions we take must be done from the heart, with a desire to spread love and joy and blessings, not from a desire to somehow "raise oneself" by being a servant to mankind. Joy must be an ingredient in the giving and in the service.
And I close with another quote from Dr. Schweitzer:
"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve."
InnerSelf Recommended book:
Mother Teresa's Prescription: Finding Happiness and Peace in Service
by Paul A. Wright, MD.
About The Author
Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.
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